Max Verstappen tops qualifying at Canadian GP as Nico Hulkenberg claims second place on the grid
Max Verstappen claimed pole position in qualifying for the 2023 Canadian GP, as Nico Hulkenberg beat Fernando Alonso to the front row of the grid right before the red flag came out.
Verstappen’s Red Bull looked by far the most comfortable car over the Montreal circuit’s many bumps and raised kerbs in the changeable conditions, though Verstappen might have faced a challenge for pole from Alonso had the wet Q3 session run normally.
Alonso was only two tenths of a second shy of Verstappen’s first flying lap in Q3, before Verstappen pumped in a second flier to substantially increase his pole margin.
Oscar Piastri then crashed his McLaren exiting Turn 7. The red flags came out just after Hulkenberg completed his second flying lap and pipped Alonso to second on the grid by 0.184 seconds.
By the time the session resumed, the worsening rainfall made it impossible for any further improvements so the grid was set with Verstappen 1.2sec clear of Hulkenberg. Alonso had to settle for third, ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Esteban Ocon’s Alpine rounded out the top six, ahead of Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz’s, Piastri and Alex Albon’s Williams. Both Sainz and Ocon are under investigation for impeding earlier in qualifying.
Albon brilliantly progressed to Q3 by topping a Q2 session in which he gambled on slicks being the right choice of tyre, as track conditions briefly improved then suddenly worsened again with rain falling.
Albon gambled on slicks from the start and found the confidence and grip to beat Verstappen to the fastest time in this segment.